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IFJ rejects new media bill and calls for public debate

(IFJ/IFEX) - 23 June 2010 - The European Federation of Journalists (EFJ), the regional body of the International Federation of Journalists (IFJ), today protested over a new media bill announced by the Hungarian government last week which it warns will "turn the clock back" for press freedom in the country.

"The bill before the Hungarian Parliament is a restrictive measure that limits freedom of opinion and thereby freedom of speech," said Aidan White, EFJ General Secretary. "It does not meet European standards of diversity and plurality and turns the clock back to a time when Hungary lived under communism and the shadow of state control of media."

The EFJ says the bill brings under state regulation the content of most printed and audiovisual media, even a part of the Internet. Because it lacks clearly defined norms and is superficial in character the fear is that the new rules will be arbitrarily applied and open the door to high-handed interference.

The EFJ and IFJ are calling on the Hungarian Government to withdraw the bill and to open up an intense public debate and dialogue with the media community and journalists. Such a dialogue should focus on providing media regulation that meets European standards and respects freedom of opinion and freedom of speech. In particular, any new law, says the EFJ, must provide legal guarantees for journalistic and editorial freedom and support ethical practice.

The EFJ supports professional organisations such as its affiliates, the Hungarian Association of Journalists and the Union of Journalists, as well as many other civil persons and civil liberties organisations which have raised their voices against the bill.

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